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Posted on Wed, Apr 6, 2011 : 7:11 p.m.

Vada Murray, Ann Arbor police officer and former Michigan football player, dies after long battle with cancer

By Staff


Sarah and Vada Murray in a 2008 file photo.

Vada Murray, an Ann Arbor police officer who played football at Michigan, died today after a long battle with advanced-stage lung cancer.

Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon posted the following on his Twitter account at 6:40 p.m. tonight:

“Sad news-Vada Murray passed away today. UofM Athletics offers its condolences to the family.”

Murray’s battle with lung cancer was first chronicled by the Ann Arbor News in 2008. He was diagnosed at age 41 despite never smoking. His parents never smoked, either.

Murray joined the Ann Arbor Police Department shortly after his playing days as a free safety at Michigan (1988-90) were complete.

Murray is survived by his wife, Sarah, and three children. Sarah Murray maintained a website with updates on Vada that has received more than 45,000 visits.


DeLando J. Coleman

Mon, Oct 8, 2012 : 7:05 a.m.

I met Vada in Cincinnati around the early '80's when I would go visit my aunt who was his older sisters neighbor. I got to know his family pretty well. He was cool friend .He played ball at Molder High School and was good player . Good enough to be a Wolverine. Reading this article put me in shock to find that he died of lung cancer. My condolences goes out to the families.

sean bryant

Mon, Jul 4, 2011 : 1:57 a.m.

I grew up with Vada (living blocks from him) and played ball (baseball, basketball and football) through 8th grade with him. He could literally fly when he ran, could jam a basketball in 7th grade, and was magnetic to be around. Fond memories include traveling baseball (The Jaycees) games when instead of sleeping in the hotel room, we stayed in his parents sweet van (with Star Trek scenes painted on the outside) with another teammate (Maurice). We spent time going to the batting cages together, rode bikes together, and I will always remember the kindness and hospitality from his parents/family (especially during one birthday party at Farrells). One memory etched in my brain was in 8th grade scoring my first ever touchdown as Vada's fullback (my role as a fullback was to be Vada's blocking back as he did his business). Vada had a rare game that day without a touchdown... except when we went to punt .... he called "spread punt.... but I am going to run it because I need a touchdown......and off he went. Playing at Eastern Michigan down the road from UM gave me a greater perspective of the caliber athlete he was. To not only be a part of UM but to contribute like he did was truly remarkable. Hearing this news saddens me deeply. If I remember correctly, his birthday is in July and mine in Aug (both 1967). Having a family with 3 wonderful children and a wife is also something I share. I trust that God will allow something good to come from such tragedy. He is faithful and the source of all comfort.

Vince Vin

Wed, Aug 31, 2011 : 11:57 p.m.

Hey Sean. This is Vince, from High School. I didn't have any idea. Just happened to find out now. Vada was the most smiling person who was taller than everyone around him. He exuded positivity. He was a great football player also, that's why I was 2nd string RB in junior high. lol It seemed that he lived an outstanding and upright life. He's another example on how to be a man, and a good soul. God bless his family.

1st Down

Thu, Apr 7, 2011 : 8:51 p.m.

43 is so young, especially for a guy who took good care of himself...

Ginny Wagner

Thu, Apr 7, 2011 : 7:26 p.m.

Vada's family, We are so sorry for your loss. It is a great loss to us all. Tom coached Vada when he first got into football in Deer Park for the Cobras. You were always one of the fastest and funniest kids we knew. You always had that great smile. He never seemed to get down on himsellf when a play went array. He would just bounce up and say "Let's do it again, coach". We remember many fun evenings with his parents and other coaches families at our house after a game for a cookout. He was an inspiration to my sons and anyone who played with him. I am so glad to say that he was a part of my life. I just hope your children will always remember how much he loved you all. We plan on planting a tree in our yard in his memory. We want to always remember a great kid and an even greater adult. Ann Arbor police Dept, Michigan football and his home town of Deer Park, Ohio have lost a true ffriend. RIP, Vada. Love, Coach and Mrs. Wagner


Thu, Apr 7, 2011 : 4:33 p.m.

He will be remembered!


Thu, Apr 7, 2011 : 3:39 p.m.

Our thoughts are with Vada's entire family. His Ann Arbor families, his Cincinnati family. We know that his son Deric will follow his Dad's foot steps and become a proud Michigan Man.


Thu, Apr 7, 2011 : 3:17 p.m.

who ever you root for on Saturday sometimes one has to acknowledge that good men play for the opponents.Vada was on of these players. RIP Vada


Thu, Apr 7, 2011 : 3:13 p.m.

Very sad and a tremendous loss to the community. My sympathies to family and friends.


Thu, Apr 7, 2011 : 12:42 p.m.

Rest in Peace Vada.. Go Blue! v

Hot Sam

Thu, Apr 7, 2011 : 12:22 p.m.

We lost a treasure...godspeed Vada


Thu, Apr 7, 2011 : 9:43 a.m.

Mr Murray exemplifies " a life well lived". May the Angels lead you into Paradise................


Thu, Apr 7, 2011 : 8:20 a.m.

I knew him as a young police officer--as a very brave, handsome, and lovely man. He along with his family went through so much with so much courage during his illness. I admire them tremendously. I wish them all peace and love.

Bill Crable

Thu, Apr 7, 2011 : 3:30 a.m.

I've known Vada since grade school where we played sports against each other and then played football together at Moeller. I ran into him outside Dicks' Sporting Goods in Kenwood (Cincinnati suburb) 2+ years ago. I had not seen him since high school. He introduced me to his wife and kids and he met my kids - ironically enough we were picking up a football mouth piece for my son who was 7 at the time. We talked for about 5 minutes and he gave me a big hug when we parted. I did not know at that time he had cancer but I found out shortly after that. I will never forget running into him after all those years because I always think there is a reason why people run into one another after an period of significant absence. My son kept asking me who that man was and all I could tell him was one of the best athletes I ever played with or against but more importantly, just a great man!


Thu, Apr 7, 2011 : 3:17 a.m.

A classic example of someone who made a huge imprint on those around him not by the quantity of his life, but by the quality of his time on earth--way too short, but truly impressive. God Bless Vada and his family.


Thu, Apr 7, 2011 : 2:54 a.m.

The collective hearts of AAPD officers are broken. Sadly Vada contracted a cancer that is uncommon to non-smokers - but instead a cancer more commonly caused by asbestos and radon. (Carcinoma in the lung lining -pleural cavity) God Bless Vada and his family.


Thu, Apr 7, 2011 : 6:40 a.m.

@retiree80-I fully understand your comments and as a former city employee who knows about the dangers of the basement offices at the Larcom building, and who knew Vada and also an avid UM football fan, he will be missed. May the lord be with him.


Thu, Apr 7, 2011 : 2:50 a.m.

I remember Vada and Tripp Welbourne, two great safeties and special teams players to boot. They blocked a lot of kicks with those high jumps on XPT and FG attempts. This guy is CLASS, even though he passed on, he will always be a fine example of a Michigan Man! God bless your family! When I share examples of Michigan Men to my children, you will certainly be one of the great examples! Join Bo in that eternal Big House in the Sky!


Thu, Apr 7, 2011 : 12:57 a.m.

Vada Murray is/was the absolute epitome of what a college athlete/student should be. A wonderful young man that served his community. I remember when he moved into the housing area on Maple Road to help keep the peace there. Whatever your god was young man, I hope he/she welcomes you with open arms!!! You were a true credit to your community and the university.

Max Maximus

Thu, Apr 7, 2011 : 2:33 a.m.

Men like this are very rare and this is a crushing loss to our community and all of humanity. Those who knew him know this. Pray that your faith gives you the strength to move through life not being able to understand the mysteries only God knows. And be happy for all that had the blessings of this one of a kind man. Godspeed to a victor.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Thu, Apr 7, 2011 : 1:46 a.m.

well said


Thu, Apr 7, 2011 : 12:52 a.m.

Rest in Peace, Vada. God bless you and your family.


Thu, Apr 7, 2011 : 12:47 a.m.

Rest in Peace Vada, you'll be missed.


Thu, Apr 7, 2011 : 12:31 a.m.

I am saddened to read this news about such a good man who served our community in the most honored profession as a police officer. I know his high character and values will live on in his children. My condolences to his family and friends. The wolverine community has lost one of their best.

Blu n Tpa

Thu, Apr 7, 2011 : 12:16 a.m.

He had all the qualities of a Michigan Wolverine. Keep fighting no matter the odds or how unfair the fight. If there is a fund being set up for the family, I hope that information is posted soon. TiM


Thu, Apr 7, 2011 : 12:02 a.m.

He was a very nice man, and I'm sorry for this unfair situation to have befallen him.


Thu, Apr 7, 2011 : 12:02 a.m.

One of our leaders and one of our best - rest in peace Mr. Vada Murray.


Wed, Apr 6, 2011 : 11:49 p.m.

That's so sad. My prayers and thoughts are with Vada and his family tonight. Be at peace Vada - we in the Michgan community will NEVER, EVER forget you.


Wed, Apr 6, 2011 : 11:36 p.m.

I read the article in 2008. The family had courage and faith, but still God wanted him home. Prayers and thoughts to family xoxox